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Massive spoilers ahead for 13 Reasons Why Season 2. If you haven't watched all 13 episodes, turn away!
Over the past few years, Netflix has quickly become a hub for new groundbreaking original content. Perhaps no Netflix show is quite as controversial as 13 Reasons Why, based off the young adult novel of the same name. The melodramatic drama focuses on bullying within Liberty High School, and how it lead to Hannah Baker's suicide. Season 2 has some really strong moments, although the series will no doubt continue to be controversial. The Season 2 finale uses a potential school shooting as a framing deice, which has been met with umbrage from advocates and Netflix subscribers. Series creator Brian Yorkey recently addressed these concerns about Tyler's almost deadly mistake, saying:
We had a character who was obviously severely bullied, suffering from social isolation and was thinking of making a very tragic choice in addressing those feelings for himself. With Season 2...we're very interested in continuing to follow his journey and to try to understand his state of mind and the state of his soul. I think you'll see in the balance of the episodes that it's very much about trying to understand Tyler's character and how a troubled young man might be driven to consider this very difficult choice. We're much more interested in understanding that character's journey than we are in seeing it end in the worst way possible. The thing that's interesting for us is the journey and trying to understand what goes into the experience of a young man who goes that route.
Brian Yorkey does make a pretty solid point here. Rather than an angsty and irredeemable villain, Tyler was seen in a much more empathetic light in 13 Reasons Why's sophomore season. As he's bullied by basically the entire school, we long for Tyler to have a safe space and some friends. With the exception of Clay and Alex, all the kids from Hannah's tapes continue to ignore the photographer. He's ultimately sent away after displaying violent and unstable tendencies due to his extreme isolation.
While Tyler is briefly shown being more confident and peaceful in the Season 2 finale, things go south. Montgomery and his buddies assault Tyler physically and sexually, which seems to be the breaking point that drives him toward violence. Luckily, Clay is ultimately able to reason with Tyler, and apologizes for being so blind to his pain.
In Brian Yorkey's conversation with THR, he explained how audience will likely be split when it comes to Tyler's story. He went on to say,
I think each viewer will have their own opinion about whether we found that balance, so I will leave that evaluation up to each individual viewer. For our part, we did as much research as we could. Unfortunately, there's a great deal of literature about a great number of troubled young men who resorted to or almost resorted to violence to act through their feelings. So we were able to study a great deal of the history there, and we tried to be authentic and honest and also accurate in our portrayal of the character. As with all things with the show, our hope was that we could honestly represent the experience; that our viewers might, through the experience, learn more and start more conversations about those issues in their own world.
While Hannah's harrowing suicide scene was the biggest controversy in 13 Reasons Why's first season, Tyler's graphic rape and his planned revenge in the Season 2 finale will likely be the biggest point of contention this time around. Netflix recently cancelled the Season 2 premiere after the recent shooting in Santa Fe, and the parallels between real life and 13 Reasons are not going to be lost on subscribers.